Bellator MMA President Scott Coker has detailed why his promotion allows fighters to self-source sponsors for their fight shorts.
While the much-debated fighter pay discussion continues to exist at the top of the mixed martial arts surface, talk about the allowance of fight gear sponsors has remained one that’s split opinion.
Although the likes of heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou have criticized the UFC for preventing athletes from donning sponsors on their gear ever since the start of its exclusive partnership with Reebok, Chael Sonnen recently defended the promotion.
According to “The American Gangster,” the past leniency was an unnecessary level of generosity from the UFC, which has now created a misconception about what is the norm.
One organization where the debate isn’t needed, though, is Bellator. When fighting under its banner, athletes are free to source and wear sponsors on their shorts.
And for the promotion’s chief, the decision to allow members of the roster to do so is virtually a no-brainer.
Coker Follows “Let Them Make Their Money” Mindset
During an interview on The MMA Hour with reporter Ariel Helwani, who has long spoken out against the UFC and PFL for preventing short sponsors, Coker explained why Bellator adopts a different policy to other major North American promotions.
Acknowledging the longevity, or lack of, when it comes to a career in fighting, the 60-year-old former Strikeforce CEO suggested that there’s no reason for him to stifle athletes’ income during their days in the sport.
“Basically, these guys are in a situation where they can make their money over a certain amount of years. So, to me, let them make their money,” Coker said. “It’s the same reason why we let fighters go fight in bare-knuckle fighting, or fighters go fight in Rizin. Look, if you have an opportunity, come and we’ll sit down and talk about it. If it makes sense, then let’s do it.
“The sponsors for fighters, to me, that’s a small ask… it does look old school, and you know what? I’m fine with it. I think it looks like it was supposed to back in the day. So, to me, I don’t have a problem with it,” Coker added. “They have a little more freedom here maybe than in other leagues.”
As Coker mentioned, the allowance of short sponsors isn’t the only unique freedom Bellator offers its fighters. They’re also able to compete outside the promotion’s banner should a logical opportunity arise, as was the case with welterweight Michael Page’s recent bare-knuckle boxing clash with Mike Perry in BKFC.
This story originally appeared on MMANews.com. Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.